The TERF Who Raised Us
When my ultra-conservative mother forbade Harry Potter to me as a child, in a twist of irony that would not occur for twenty years, she used an argument logically identical to the one its author uses today against trans folk. She told me that Harry Potter, a children’s series about a boy wizard and his friends who go to a magic school called Hogwarts and use spells with names like “riddikulus,” was Satanic worship masquerading as children’s literature, that it had not been written as an earnest attempt to entertain middle schoolers but as an obscene plot to smuggle immorality into my young mind and turn me into a godless leftist.
A godless leftist I became without the help of billionaire transphobe J.K. Rowling, but the idea that there are concerted forces aiming to corrupt young minds is now something she and my mother agree on. If you’ve had the distinct displeasure of reading through Rowling’s unhinged defenses of her transphobia, you’ll hear the same line of logic echoed throughout: that anyone who champions trans rights is part of a dastardly plot to turn children into sex perverts and allow cisgender women to be raped in public restrooms.
Now we have to deal with all sorts of unfortunate questions. Questions like: can we still read and watch Harry Potter? If so, do we need to flog ourselves in penance each time we feel warm and fuzzy feelings surrounding the most marketable children’s franchise in history? Can we separate Jowling Kowling Rowling from her work (Death of The Author)? Can we separate her head from her body when the revolution finally comes (death of the author)?
To untangle this Gordian knot of ethics and absolute clownfuckery, let’s start with the basics.
Transphobia, unlike most prejudices, does not stem solely from a hatred of trans people as racism does hatred of black people or homophobia does hatred of gay people (although hating trans people is its end result) but from a belief that trans people do not actually exist in the first place. It’s easy for cishet people to lump trans people in with the rest of the queers, but the most marked difference is that while attraction is physical and therefore harder to deny, gender is largely a state of mind that only manifests…